Jilara (jilara) wrote,

Of Records and Birthers...

I've been having a hard time figuring out why the "birthers" piss me off so much. Aside from the sheer political conspiracy-theorist weirdness of it all, that is. Which should be enough. But it's more complex than that. But I'm starting to figure it out.

It's because it offends my research historian side. People make up all this crap, and then it often gets propagated by history books. It's bad enough how things are revised just by natural processes of mishearing, misremembering, and people wanting to make things look good. I've found four different births and deaths for a great-great-great aunt of mine, in "official" sources, and it's all hooey. I've stood next to her grave and read the info, and checked the original source documents. The Mormon database lists her twice, and both are wrong, on birthplace, birthdates, death dates... And that's just because people repeat honest fallacies. Add an agenda, and suddenly, you have recipes like "There were no female soldiers in the Civil War."

The other one is people disputing vital records. The Dowager Countess of Clare lived past 130 years of age, but everyone disputes that "because it's impossible." Yet the records are there. She was notable enough that she had her whole life recorded. But no, not good enough for the nay-sayers. "Must be wrong somewhere..." Never mind how many independent original sources confirm it. (And that one actually steams me like it was personal or something.) Maybe it's like why I dislike Wikipedia, which lets you post dubious factoids so long as they are published, but not things that were, say, personally experienced.

And facts are so inconvenient. They get in the way of so many good stories...

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